They have fun names like Princess for a Night, Butterfly Project, Cinderella’s Closet and All Dressed Up, but the purpose of each program is serious…providing dresses, accessories and, often, hair and make-up aid to young women whose families do not have the financial means to help them prepare for the prom.

Junior Leagues find many different ways of making an impact on their communities throughout the year, but as May prom season nears, one of the most appropriate is helping girls feel good about themselves by participating in a very special moment of their high school careers…and by providing recognition of their hard work and determination in staying in school when financial and personal circumstances may make that difficult.

Junior Leagues have been leaders around the country in the prom dress movement, paralleling what is being done on the national level by organizations like, sponsored by Seventeen Magazine.

All of the League programs rely on volunteers to collect the dresses and run the events, but the programs, like the sponsoring Leagues themselves, differ in format and approach.

Now in its 8th year, the Junior League of South Bend’s Princess for a Night event provided dresses to over 700 young women last year.  Now in its 7th year, the Junior League of Madison’s All Dressed Up event matches hundreds of girls with the prom dress of their dreams along with the right shoes and accessories.

The Junior League of Kalamazoo’s Cinderella Project provides participants with personal shoppers on Boutique Day to find the dress of their dreams.  The young women who participate are junior and senior high school girls who are recommended to the program by local school officials and community leaders.

The Junior League of Huntsville’s Butterfly Project goes a step further by using academic excellence and demonstrated community and civic leadership as well as economic need in selecting 130 girls – 10 from each of 13 area high schools – for aid.  Working with teachers and guidance counselors, JLH volunteers identify candidates.  Each girl is provided with a dress and accessories for their prom, and several girls are then selected from this group to receive Monarch Scholarships from JLH to further their post-secondary education.

The Junior League of Tallahassee’s Operation Prom Dress provides gently used formal wear and accessories to young women across the Tallahassee area by creating a unique, one-day boutique shopping experience for girls who otherwise do not have the financial means to outfit themselves for prom.

In Georgia, the Junior League of Columbus’ Project Prom allows girls to “shop” for the prom dress of their choice at a scheduled time.  One lucky girl who attends will also have her prom tickets paid for and win gift certificates that will cover hair and make-up services.

During prom season the Junior League of Sioux City creates a special formal wear area for prom goers in its thrift store.  Dresses are available at a very affordable $15-$20, and the money raised from sales helps to fund other JLSC projects that serve Sioux City.

The Junior League of Scranton’s  Cinderella’s Closet adds ESTEEMtown, a self-esteem workshop, to its prom dress event along with a fashion show  preview of the dresses available.

Does it make a difference?  Listen to these comments from participants in the Junior League of Madison’s All Dressed Up program:

“I think this was very helpful and it was a blast for me and my friends and I want to thank you all for everything.”

“Thanks so much for your gracious efforts to make my prom a success!”

“Very good organization.  Wonderful staff, very empathetic.”

So maybe it’s time to look in your daughter’s closet and see if there might be a dress with accessories just hanging there from last year’s prom.